Simpson Remarks During Floor Consideration on H.R. 4821, The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Nov 2, 2023

I am pleased to begin consideration of H.R. 4821, the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

Before I get into the bill, I want to commend Chairwoman Granger for her steadfast leadership of the Appropriations Committee and her ongoing support. I'd also like to thank the Ranking Member of the Full Committee, Ms. Delauro, for her important work on this legislation and other things.

I’d also like to thank Ranking Member Pingree for her partnership and the Subcommittee Members for their work on this bill. Although, Ms. Pingree and I might have some differences of opinion on this bill.

H.R. 4821 provides $25.4 billion in new non-defense discretionary spending – which is $13.4 billion or 35 percent below the Fiscal Year 2023 level. 

The bill also rescinds $9.4 billion in unnecessary funding provided to the EPA, the Presidio Trust, and the Council on Environmental Quality through the Inflation Reduction Act.

Cutting funding is never easy or pretty, but with the national debt in excess of $33 trillion and inflation at an unacceptable level, we had to make tough choices to rein in federal spending. 

Last Congress alone, $3 trillion was spent outside of the normal appropriations process, that is $3 trillion that went onto the national debt. Simply holding funding flat is not enough. We must work to curb out-of-control spending and get our budget back on track. This bill does that.

This legislation prioritizes critical needs within our reduced allocation and addresses specific interests and concerns brought to our attention through more than 8,000 Member requests. 

H.R. 4821 fully funds the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program for Fiscal Year 2024 – which is estimated to be $515 million. 

It also makes critical investments in Indian Country by providing funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and Indian Health Service at Fiscal Year 2023 levels or above. 

To combat catastrophic wildfires and protect communities across the country, the bill includes a $1.6 billion discretionary increase to fund wildfire activities without budget gimmicks. It also provides a $2.65 billion cap adjustment for wildfire suppression activities, as authorized.

To address these priorities while right sizing the agencies under our jurisdiction, the bill reduces funding for nearly every other appropriation in the bill and many agencies receive double digit percentage reductions. The EPA is reduced by $4 billion or 39 percent below the Fiscal Year 2023 level. 

In terms of policy, the bill takes important steps to reduce regulatory burdens imposed by the EPA, expand access to critical minerals and natural resources, and promote domestic energy production. Such efforts include:

  • Halting EPA’s job-killing regulations such as repealing the recent Waters of the United States regulation and rules that target reliable energy sources and domestic manufacturing;
  • Limiting abuse of the Endangered Species Act regarding species such as the sage-grouse, the gray wolf, bison, and the lesser prairie chicken;
  • Expanding access to critical minerals and promoting proper management of our nation’s forests; and
  • Requiring oil and gas lease sales.

These policies will help boost our national security, reduce energy costs, and create American jobs.

Mr. Chairman, this bill will help manage our public lands wisely, meet our commitment to our brothers and sisters in Indian country, and restore the fiscal responsibility necessary to get our economy back on track. I urge its adoption and I reserve the balance of my time.